War of the Rebellion: Serial 046 Page 0657 Chapter XL. BOMBARDMENT OF FORT SUMTER, S. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

3. But the reduction in supplies and the diminished exposure of the troops are obtained at the great risk of allowing the enemy to enter the fort, where, with his facilities and energy, it is to be apprehended that the may secure a lodgment.

We also abandon the great moral advantage of meeting the enemy at a moment when more or less confusion is inevitable with him; that is, when the approach is made to the broken walls in boats, and the men are being transferred to the unstable and unknown footing of broken bricks, stone, and other material, and this under a plunging fire from our own troops on the top of the wall. If the enemy be allowed to pass this critical moment of debarkation unmolested, he will be much encouraged and even stimulated to renewed efforts.

4. The whole safety of the place is made to depend upon quite a limited number of men, as arrangements of the fire of but few can be provided for in the bomb-proofs; upon mines and torpedoes (which are attended with many uncertainties), and upon the accuracy of curvated fires, at distance varying from, say, 1,700 to 2, 4000 yards. To make firing at these distances accurate, previous practice is necessary, and even then, unless the gunners are very skillful, many of the shell will fall wide of the mark; and, further, it must be remembered that in this instance the firing will probably be made at night and under the excitement of a sudden call to the battery. Nor must it be forgotten that the attack upon Fort Sumter may be supported by a vigorous demonstration of the naval forces upon the batteries on Sullivan's Island, thus distracting their attention entirely from the main attempt upon the fort.

5. In the interior of Fort Sumter there are many points of shelter furnished by piers, arches, and broken masonry, some of which may be destroyed by blasting, preparatory to the defense suggested; but it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to deprive the enemy entirely of cover, if he be permitted once to enter the work. Whatever is to be done to destroy the shelter should be done previous to any attack, for, under the excitement of an assault, the best arrangements for exploding mines are very liable to fail.

6. If the enemy were allowed to land at the foot of the breach of the east front without resistance, it is to be feared that he might proceed at once to construct cover in the form of a traverse that would protect him from all direct fires coming from Sullivan's Island, and then cover himself in front toward the top of the wall; in other words, crown the crest of the long breach, thus placing himself in position to command the whole interior of the fort, making it impossible for the garrison to venture from one point of cover to another.

The east front cannot be seen by any of our batteries on James Island, and by only a part of those on Sullivan's Island. The rear of the enemy in the supposed lodgment on this front would be perfectly protected by his navy and his batteries on Morris Island. He would soon command the communication between Cumming's Point and the fort by bringing his monitors in such proximity as to force all our gunboats back toward the city. Thus he would be enabled to bring up material to make his lodgment secure and permanent.

7. The bomb-proof defenses in Fort Sumter may be considered as having the relation to the breach in the fort that the redoubt and cavalier have to breaches in the demilune and bastion, in which cases a vigorous defense struggles for the mastery of the breach to the last extremity.

42 R R-VOL XXVIII, PT I